Celebrating Fifty Years of Archaeology-Remembering Past Staff: Dr Carolyn Thorp
Dr Carolyn Thorp completed her Honours degree at Reading University in 1975 and in 1984 she received her Masters degree from the University of the Witwatersrand. Her research topics for both these degrees concerned aspects of the archaeology of Great Zimbabwe. At the time Carolyn was employed as Curator of Iron Age Archaeology at the Museum of Human Sciences (then the Queen Victoria Museum) in Harare. Her research was supervised by Tom Huffman and encouraged by Mike Raath (then Executive Director of National Museums of Zimbabwe) and Liz Voight (then a curator at the Transvaal Museum). From 1987 to 1991, while living in Maseru, Lesotho Carolyn completed fieldwork on later Stone Age sites for her PHD, which was awarded by the University of Witwatersrand in 1998. This research on a hypothesised frontier between hunter-gatherers and farmers in the Caledon Valley in South Africa was supervised by Lyn Wadley.
Carolyn’s career has included research on Archaeozoology, the Stone Age and Iron Age in southern and eastern Africa, and in recent years she has turned her attention to exploring the worldviews of nineteenth century /Xam and contemporary Khoisan peoples to interpret rock art imagery. Carolyn spent many years with the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe culminating in her appointment as Chief Curator of Human Sciences (Archaeology). She then worked with the British Institute in Eastern Africa as coordinator of their project on Landscape and Environmental Change in Semi-Arid Landscapes of East & Southern Africa from 2002 to 2005. She joined the KwaZulu-Natal Museum in 2009 as Head of the Department of Human Sciences until her retirement in December 2017.
As Head of Human Sciences at the KZN Museum, Carolyn expanded the number of technical staff, recruiting emerging scholars with archaeological qualifications. Leveraging the museum’s excellent programmes for furthering staff qualification, a number of these scholars achieved higher degrees under Carolyn’s leadership. She also improved the curation of the collections in the Human Sciences Department and oversaw the critical GRAP103 process, which prepared the 45,000 heritage assets in the department for annual auditing purposes. She remains active in research and maintains links to the KwaZulu-Natal Museum.